PhD Candidacy and Transferring from MSc to PhD

Becoming a “Candidate for PhD” as a PhD or MSc student

Read the Chemistry Graduate Student Handbook (Section 3.6 and 3.7 and Appendix 1) and Graduate Studies Calendar for full details on academic regulations and requirements.

Candidacy Exams for PhD Students

PhD students must take their candidacy exam no later than 22 months after their first registration in the program.  A pre-candidacy meeting with your supervisory committee is required, no later than 18 months into your program.


Students wishing to take their candidacy examination must have:

  • Completed all course work (typically 4 courses)
  • Notified the Department office (Graduate Program Coordinator) that you intend to take the exam
  • Completed the pre-candidacy committee meeting and selected an additional member for the Examination Committee.


As part of your candidacy exam, you will:

  • Submit a written research proposal for your thesis work (requirements in the Handbook)
    • You will receive feedback from your committee on your proposal
  • Complete an oral examination on the subject of your research proposal and on topics decided at the pre-candidacy meeting with your committee

Outcomes: PASS

After a successful candidacy exam, you will:

  • Advance to the category “Candidate for the PhD”
  • Convert to Continuing Fees at the start of the next academic term

Outcomes: FAIL

If you do not pass your candidacy exam:

  • You will have one retake attempt (between 2 and 6 months from the first exam date).
  • If the retake is failed, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.


Transferring from MSc to PhD

If a MSc student wishes to transfer directly to the PhD program (without defending a MSc thesis) then between 12-18 months from your first registration, you must notify the Department office in writing of your intent and have a pre-examination meeting with your supervisory committee. The examination itself must be completed within 22 months from your first registration.


Students wishing to sit a Candidacy examination and transfer from MSc to PhD must:

  • Have completed a minimum of 3 courses (HCE) at the graduate level
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.5
  • Notified the graduate office and completed the pre-candidacy committee meeting.


The format and general requirements of the Candidacy exam are the same for MSc students and PhD students.

Outcomes: PASS

If you pass the Candidacy examination:

  • If you have only completed 3 courses total before the exam, you must complete the 4th required graduate course before the transfer will be completed.
    • You must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 to complete the program transfer.
  • Once your coursework is complete:
    • The Department will request the program transfer based on your examination results
    •  You will remain at Program (full) fees until your coursework is completed, then transfer to Continuing fees in the following term.
    • You will advance to the category “Candidate for the PhD”
  • You may need to complete additional CHEM 601/603 seminars if you did not complete the PhD requirements during your first year.

Outcomes: FAIL

Rules are the same as for the PhD candidacy: you will have one retake attempt available for your Candidacy exam.